As the weeks passed, it became more and more apparent that the Waymakers were not going to have the decency to apologize to me for the way they handled a complaint they’d made about me to the dean’s office. At best, they had been incredibly thin-skinned about emails in which I simply told them off. At worst, they had been forced to back down when they couldn’t prove a false accusation of harassment.
What really irked me was that while I knew this complaint had been made in bad faith, I had no way of proving it. That was partly why I realized my initial desire to grab the table and flip it on top of them wasn’t going anywhere. True, anyone with half a brain could have looked at the timeline and realized that this complaint was made in bad faith. But without being able to counter the all-but-certain Waymaker defense that they felt it would be derelict not to report it, I had no way of proving it beyond reasonable doubt.
The more I thought about it, those same considerations also ruled out–at least for now–a lawsuit against KPIC. That may seem weird at first glance. After all, while Carolina’s student judicial system operated on the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” civil cases use the standard of “preponderance of the evidence.”
Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Donnell explain the distinction pretty well in their book about the Lance Armstrong case, Wheelmen. They noted that civil cases are governed by “basic common sense,” and the tools that defense attorneys can use to keep evidence out are far more limited. According to Albergotti and O’Donnell, Armstrong fought so hard to keep his doping case out of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s arbitration process. They knew that USADA had enough evidence to convince “any person with half a brain” that Armstrong had been a serial doper.
On the face of it, “basic common sense” was on my side. I had the Website of The Forerunner proudly advertising KPIC’s former Maranatha ties, as well as the Waymakers’ essentially saying “So what?” when I confronted them with this information. I could argue that by knowingly continuing to do Pastor Ron’s bidding, they were engaging in reckless behavior that simply couldn’t be tolerated.
However, as I chewed on it, I realized that while I may have had the facts on my side, it still wasn’t enough to go forward with a lawsuit. For one thing, KPIC almost certainly had the resources to hire lawyers who could do a deep dive into my past. After all, they had enough money to build a coliseum of a thing to replace their current facility. It is all too common for defendants in civil cases to put the plaintiff on trial. I could not in good conscience expose my friends to this if it could be avoided.
More seriously, the fact that the Waymakers at least condoned the behavior of my former “sisters” made me wonder–what if, in response to my lawsuit, they made another complaint? Or two? Or three? Even if those all went nowhere, I was concerned it could potentially make it appear that I had a history of inappropriate behavior with women–and that it could potentially keep me from getting a job. Remember, we were only eight years removed from the Anita Hill imbroglio, a move that made employers more conscious about sexual harassment.
On what planet should anyone have to fear being retaliated against in this way just for speaking out? Now I knew how people who had been intimidated by the Mafia must have felt. No one–no one–should ever have to live in fear of being retaliated against simply they went to the authorities to demand the righting of a wrong. That is probably the most sacrosanct right that isn’t enumerated in the Constitution.
So with this in mind, I realized that the only way to head off these gutter tactics at the pass would be if I somehow were able to prove that the Waymakers’ complaint had either been in bad faith or had been a frame-up. If I could prove either was the case, I was going to have to content myself with finding a way to get in touch with their parents. While on paper I could have gone right to Bresicani, I had a feeling that contacting the Waymakers’ parents would have been a lot safer.
Not long after we returned from fall break, a chance to find that proof unexpectedly fell into my lap. Sadly, though, I realized that pursuing it would have required me to cross a line I wasn’t willing to cross.